Mike Sullivan calls for internet tax after being lobbied

CDs are cheap to make but expensive to buy. That’s because the price of every blank CD or DVD is inflated by a 29¢ tax. The tax is so steep that the entire price of a spindle of 50 DVDs is tax—retailers, if they pay the fees, are selling the discs at a loss. This extra money is distributed to artists and record companies under the presupposition that blank CDs and DVDs are used for illegal copying. Now, as people use fewer physical media, our MP says that the government should consider putting a similar tax on the internet.

Sullivan defended the blank media tax in the House last week. He was criticizing the new copyright bill before the House, and spoke glowingly about the old tax:

A [blank media] levy was created and administered by an arm’s-length agency that would provide funding for the artists for their material that was put onto cassette tapes and, ultimately, CDs and DVDs. We found a mechanism whereby the distribution system for the artists’ works paid the artists. That worked. We did not make criminals. We made artists prosper in this country. We ensured that the artists got their royalties and were fairly compensated for their works.

Sullivan added that he would like to somehow tax the internet: “I believe”, he said, “that we need to find a mechanism whereby that distribution system [the internet] is in fact a way of providing royalties to the artists so that they can continue.”

He wants suggested a 1¢ monthly internet tax, paid to the ISP. Your humble correspondent thinks it is somewhat unlikely that internet providers will tack on only 1¢; ISPs like Bell and Rogers don’t generally work in penny increments, and they have never blushed at the idea of tacking on generous fees.

Plausibility aside, Sullivan was lobbied twice last month by the organization that collects and distributes the blank media levy, the Canadian Private Copying Collective. No details of the lobbying are available, but according to the public report, they did speak about the new copyright act and its impact on the blank media tax.

Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

4 thoughts on “Mike Sullivan calls for internet tax after being lobbied”

  1. Tax the internet?!! No way. I understand he’s new at the job but he’s starting to cozy up to lobbyists too much too early. Time to speak out against Cons. crime/gun bill that will have more implications for York South Weston instead.

  2. My point was not to suggest a tax. My point was that the distribution system is how artists have been paid in North America for some considerable time. We’ve done it without making criminals of consumers. The present copyright bill will make criminals of anyone who copies anything with a digital lock, whether that’s recording on your PVR to watch a program when you get home from work, or viewing a you-tube clip. If the original has any digital lock, you are now a criminal. We’re better than that here in Canada. We have made sure that we haven’t restricted the consumer’s ability to consume a product, be that radio transmissions, television transmissions, or cassette or CD copying. We don’t make criminals of the consumers. We create mechanisms to ensure that the artist gets paid for his or her work, by making the distribution mechanism pay the artist. It seems like the sanest mechanism, and one which is the least restrictive to our ‘freedoms’. No lobbyist had any influence on me on this issue.

  3. people hear the word tax and they throw their arms up in the air in despair. better to have a tiny little fee added to your monthly internet bill than to be sued for thousands of dollars because your kid downloaded a song or movie for personal consumption. time spent complaining about such a fee would be better spent on complaining about high data usage fees and our internet infrastructure which has fallen behind the rest of the world. we pay a high premium on antiquated technology. our information superhighway is but a narrow road with high tolls and low speed limit, stifling innovation and the marketability of the country.

  4. No fee or tax on ISPs will stamp out hard core piracy..Certainly my mom, a senior, who only uses the internet to check her email and search for travel deals , do not deserve to pay extra “fee” to pay for royalties to artists when she never downloads nothing. There’s a new generation of kids who is growing up with iTunes, amazon.com, etc. that paying for music is becoming norm again. The problem is the ones that make it a business in piracy..but slapping on blanket fees won’t solve the problem and it’s not fair.

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